Fox was appreciated more for its pelt quality than its food value ; nevertheless, the animal was a source of sustenance for Koyukon and Inuit [2, 3]. Cultures that also consumed fox meat on occasion include the Ingalik, Vunta Kutchin (Gwich’in), Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw), Assiniboine, Plains Cree, Huron and Montagnais-Naskapi (Innu) [4-12]. The Round Lake Ojibwa (Anishinabek), Micmac (Mi'kmaq) and James Bay Cree at Eastmain and Paint Hills were known to consume small amounts of fox flesh and the North Alaska Coast Inupiat, Netsilik Inuit, Aleut and Dene supplemented their typical diet with fox meat [13-20]. For the Attawapiskat Cree, fox was an emergency food eaten only in times of starvation or famine [19, 21]. In contrast, the Huron, who had limited access to meat, relished fox, which was eaten several times a year at feasts . Remains of fox were commonly found at the Independence I Paleo-Eskimo archeological site but were rare at the Independence II site at Peary Land . Many Inuit, Peel River Kutchin, Crow River Kutchin and Tahltan trapped fox primarily for the fur [23-25]. Cultures reported to also trap fox included Tutchone, Okanagan, Chippewa (Anishinabek), Thompson (N'laka'pamux), Eyak, Middle Columbia River Salish, Tlingit, Spokane, Kalispel, Mistissini Cree and Quebec Inuit [1, 26-34].
Fox was generally trapped in winter, sometimes starting as early as the end of September; however the official fox trapping season was from December first to April fifteenth [16, 34, 35]. The Tutchone began to trap at the end of September, while the Montagnais of Lake Melville moved to fox hunting grounds in October [27, 36]. Similarly, the Okanagan and Southwestern Chippewa traveled to lodges or hunting grounds in winter to trap small animals, including fox [28, 30]. In December and January, lack of natural light prevented Inuit from hunting, making fox trapping an important source of fresh meat during this period.
Prior to contact with Europeans, fox was not hunted as frequently, but became more important when the fur trade developed . Fox trapping then became a very important winter hunting activity especially in the early twentieth century; however the fall of fox pelt prices reduced the importance significantly [37, 38].
Traditional trapping methods included many variations of deadfalls, pitfalls, and snares; however these were quickly replaced with metal traps when they became available [39, 40]. The Thompson caught fox by forcing them out of their dens with fire or digging them out . The Netsilik, Eyak, Middle Columbia River Salish, Tlingit, Spokane, Kalispel, Huron and Ingalik set traps, snares, deadfalls on trails or used arrows to kill fox [1, 10, 14, 31-33, 41, 42]. In addition to shooting or clubbing fox with a paddle, the Mistissini Cree used spring-pole and metal traps . Fox traps were often set by Inuit women although men would also share the task when they were not occupied with large game hunting activities . Traps were made from either stone or ice by Iglulik and Quebec Inuit [24, 26, 44]. Traps made of ice were used to catch fox in winter while stone traps were used in summer and less frequently . The Mistissini were successful in catching fox in stationary snares baited with meat and set on fox trails near lakes and rivers .
The Micmac ate fresh fox meat and also smoked it. The Salish used fox flesh in soups and stews [16, 47]. Fox was skinned and the fur was stretched by inserting twigs into the forefeet and hanging it in a tree .
Arctic fox was occasionally eaten by Inuit and became an important economic resource when nearby trading posts were established . Mackenzie Inuvialuit and Belcher Island Inuit are reported to have consumed small quantities of arctic fox [48, 49]. Archeological evidence at the Kugaluk site suggests that Nuvorugmiut caught arctic fox . It was common to find arctic fox in Northwestern Alaska, especially if food was nearby . Kotzebue Sound Inupiat had access to arctic fox [52, 53]. Inuit of Hopedale, Labrador caught arctic fox at key locations . Omushkego Cree are reported to have consumed small quantities of arctic fox  and Dogrib caught arctic fox on the tundra .
Prior to the fur trade and contact with Europeans, arctic fox was hunted occasionally for the meat and fur [35, 57]; however by the 1960s Inuit focused on the pelt/fur, fashioning neck warmers out of the tails and selling the pelts for cash [23, 35, 58], making arctic fox an important economic resource for Inuit . For example, at Eskimo Point (now Arviat), the animal was trapped and sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company . Arctic fox became an even more important resource with the introduction of metal traps . The trapping season for arctic fox was December to March ; men would establish permanent trapping camps to hunt during this time .
Traditionally, pitfalls or deadfalls were used to capture arctic fox. Pitfalls were deep holes dug in the ground or snow that were partially filled with sharp sticks or antlers and then covered and baited, often with pieces of baleen whale. The trap could be reset many times to capture multiple fox. Another method involved building stone or ice wells that were baited. Stones at the bottom of the well would be left out, allowing an escape route so that the fox would become familiar with entering and exiting. The stones were eventually replaced, blocking the exit and trapping the fox. Nooses and weights were also placed cleverly so that when the fox attempted to eat the bait he would be strangled by a noose or, in the case of a deadfall, a pile of rocks would fall on the animal. When steel traps became available these methods became less important. Hunters would set metal traps in a line spanning many kilometers . In Northwestern Alaska, trappers built a small snow house over bait and placed a steel trap in the entrance that would catch the fox when it stepped toward the house .
Inuit are generally thought to have regarded arctic fox as emergency food , with some using the meat as dog food . Unlike other meats, Inuit did not eat raw fox meat; it was boiled for at least an hour. When food was scarce, foxtails were used to soak up the blood of an animal. This blood would freeze, making it easy to transport back to camp, where it would be made into a broth . Given that arctic foxes were excellent at finding food beneath deep snow, which they marked with urine, Inuit could follow fox to locate buried meat of other traditional food species .
Mackenzie Inuvialuit are reported to have consumed small quantities of red fox ; however it is thought that most cultures valued red fox more for its fur than for its meat [23, 58]. Indeed, the fur of the red fox was thought to be important to the Nuvorugmiut, and archeological evidence at the Kugaluk site confirms that it was caught to a small extent . Red fox remains were also found at the Cabin Onondaga archeological site . The trapping season for red fox was primarily from December to March . In addition to using the fur, Micmac used the fat as an ointment and the ulna was used to make awls . Red fox became an important commercial and subsistence resource with the introduction of metal traps . Although red fox pelt was found in Northwestern Alaska, it is thought that they were probably only acquired through trade . Inuit of Hopedale, Labrador are reported to have caught red fox, referred to locally as colored fox  and the Chipewyan trapped red fox in the boreal forest area . Inuit traded the pelts of cross foxes, a color variant of red foxes, until the 1960s . Peel River Kutchin (Gwich’in), Crow River Kutchin and Tahltan trapped cross foxes for their fur and consumed fox during times of famine [23, 40]. The Peel River Kutchin (Gwich’in), Crow River Kutchin and Tahltan hunted silver fox, another color variant of red foxes, for its fur, and consumed the meat during times of famine [23, 40]. Although silver fox pelt was found in Northwestern Alaska, it is thought that it was probably acquired through trade .
The Plains Cree are reported to have eaten swift fox .
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Foxes are carnivorous mammals and are the smallest wild member of the dog family, that also includes wolves and coyotes. Foxes are found in almost every habitat, from the arctic tundra to southern deserts. North American foxes include the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), the red fox (V. vulpes), and the swift fox (V. velox).
Like other members of the dog family, foxes have a pointed muzzle with long canine teeth, dense fur, a big bushy tail, and large erect ears. They are tireless long-distance travelers and are almost always on the move trotting across their large hunting territories. They usually den in burrows, rock caves, or hollow logs, but are active year-round. Foxes are more solitary than larger canids like coyotes and wolves, but occasional hunt in pairs. They are associated with forested habitats and smaller-sized prey including rodents and small birds. They rely extensively on their highly sensitive sense of smell, sight, and hearing to find food .
The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) is the most cold-adapted member of the dog family with a circumpolar distribution mainly above 60º N. In North America, they occur along Arctic coastal areas and extend southward across Northwest Territories and eastward up to northern Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland.
Arctic fox have densely furred and short ears, limbs, and muzzle to minimize heat lost and prevent frost bite. Their fur is especially thick with high insulation capacity making them extremely resistant to cold; shivering commences only when temperature goes below -70º C. Most continental populations of arctic foxes are white in winter and grayish or dark brown in summer. However, some island populations alternate between light bluish gray in the winter and dark bluish gray in the summer. Adult Arctic foxes typically weigh 3.6 kg, but males are slightly bigger than females.
Arctic foxes are mainly solitary, usually found alone or in male-female pairs during the breeding season. They occupy dens with multiple entrances (up to 60) that can be used over many generations. They produce one litter, of 6-10 pups per year, born in the den, after around 50 days of gestation. In the summer, Arctic foxes feed mostly on lemmings and voles, but complement their diet with birds and eggs, ground squirrels, young hares, and carrion. Winter diet consists of carrion, small mammals, and ptarmigan. Arctic foxes are prolific food cachers during period of resource abundance, which provides an important additional food source in winter. Most young do not survive their first winter and most adults die before they are 4 years old. In places where they co-occur, red fox can displace the Arctic fox. Wolves, polar bears, and snowy owls are the most important arctic fox predators .
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the most widespread wild carnivore and occurs across most of North America, except the high arctic and some parts of coastal British Columbia, the Rocky Mountains, and southwestern United States.
Red foxes are most often rusty red with a white belly and chin, but can also be black, silver or crossed between these colour morphs. Adult red foxes typically weigh 4.8 kg and roam on individual territories, as large as 3,400 hectare in northern part of their range.
Red foxes form monogamous couples that mate between December and March, and produce around 5 pups that are born in a den about 50 days later. They are opportunistic in their feeding habits and small mammals are their staple food, but they also feed on birds, fruits, invertebrates, and carrion .
The swift fox (Vulpes velox), also known as the kit fox, is the smallest wild North American member of the dog family, including wolves and coyotes. They occur southward from the southern Canadian Prairies, east of the Rocky Mountains down to Mexico and westward along United States border.
Swift foxes are yellowish tan with a white underside and gray tints on the back. Adults typically weigh 2.1 kg and live in family groups on a territory with more than 15 dens, where they spent most day light hours. Nights are spent hunting for their preferred prey, which includes various species of small mammals, small birds, reptiles, and insects .
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